Monthly Archives: September 2012

Back in the PRC

Back in the PRC. This will be my 6th year teaching out here. Its true what they say, the more things change the more they stay the same. It took me two weeks to figure out a way to climb the Firewall and find a shop that sold real bread.

After a gruelling 30-hour journey I arrived in my new place of residence. Hunan Agriculture University, Changsha, China. I spent part of the morning waiting for a plane in Shanghai, where the sun was shining through the departure lounge windows. But in Changsha the temperature was lower and the sky overcast. Predictably, it rained later. I have always said, I have a strange ability to take the Welsh rain with me wherever I go. Guess I won’t be needing the new Karrimor sunglasses I spunked £22 on.

When I walked through the door of my new apartment the first thing I saw was a dead cockroach, just lying on the floor near the door. It was almost as if it were an offering of some kind, or a welcome gift. My friend Aria came to visit me and help me settle in. Chinese girls are good like that. Especially if they know you have gifts for them, In Aria’s case it was a copy of Filthy Shades of Grey, a book that is undoubtedly not available in China, an I AM SHERLOCKED tee shirt and a bar of Cadbury’s Wholenut.

I woke up the next morning with a cockroach crawling through my chest hair. It was raining outside so I had chocolate and a bottle of milk tea for breakfast, watched a couple of episodes of I Shouldn’t Be Alive (Discovery Channel documentary), then went back to sleep. When I woke up again it was dark. Jet lag is a cruel mistress.

The campus of my new place of residence, Hunan Agricultural University, is absolutely huge. There are thousands upon thousands of students, and countless shops, supermarkets and restaurants. In fact, the campus is probably bigger than most fair-sized European towns and villages. It is situated on the outskirts of Changsha, a city of over 6 million (more than twice the total population of my country) and surrounded by lush green fields, rice paddies, ponds and mile after mile of farm land. Strawberries grow here.

After a couple of days I was called to the university office. I was expecting to collect my new schedule, or maybe have to hand over my passport or other documents. Instead I was given a months salary in cash, told I was going on a weekend trip to a spa in order to experience ‘rural Hunan’ the following week at the request of the local government, and that my classes didn’t actually start for over a month after that. I’ll pick up another month’s salary before I have to do any actual teaching.

Apparently I am teaching freshmen students, which means most of them will be in the 17-19 age group. The freshmen classes always start later than the others because, regardless of their major, for the first six weeks or so of their college / university lives every student, make and female, has to partake in military training. I suspect this is to teach them discipline rather than prepare them for war, but I have never been sure about that. They march and learn songs, and the kids at the nicer universities even get to shoot rifles. The poorer and/or less prestigious universities can’t afford bullets, so they just have to pretend.

My first weekend back in Changsha was eventful. On Saturday one of my friends, Martin, a Canadian, and his Chinese partner Cici got married. Chinese weddings are a blast! The next day there was Orange Island music festival. Chinese music festivals are quite bizarre. You get a very eclectic mixture of acts, from traditional singers to thrash metal and screamo, all on the same bill. I only went to see Architects who didn’t even end up playing in the end. The day after that I went on a trip to an ancient riverside town nearby called Jing Gang, which was beautiful. Strangely for China, it was almost completely deserted. Which only made the elaborate show in the evening, a re-enactment of a battle that took place on the river there 5 or 600 years ago, even more surreal!

It’s difficult sometimes, being in a strange country with limited internet and crap bread, but I wouldn’t change this life for the world.

Fading Light

Fading Light

Front Cover

The new anthology, Fading Light, edited by the awesome Tim Marquitz, is available from today on Angelic Knight Press. It features my short story, Roadkill, alongside offerings from a host of much better and more accomplished writers, many of which are outlined below.

Table of Contents:

“Parasitic Embrace” by Adam Millard
A volcano erupts, sending an ominous ash-cloud across the ocean. The ash-cloud is the least of our worries. Contained within the hellish plume are millions of micro-parasites that have been dormant, waiting to find their host.

“The Equivalence Principle” by Nick Cato
Steve Burke is a man suffering from a severe case of agoraphobia. He treats himself with a homemade cocktail of natural herbs and over the counter pain killers. But what he has spent most of his life avoiding becomes real in the ways he’d always feared.

“Goldilocks Zone” by Gary W. Olson
Amita has had a trying evening––and it’s just getting started. People are becoming monsters, buildings are slipping into sludge, gravity is turning optional, and assorted parts of her body are mutating. A voice in her head tries to explain, but somehow, understanding only makes it stranger.

“They Wait Below” by Tom Olbert
The world is near dying. An ecological inspector stationed on a deep sea oil rig suspects something is very wrong with the rig’s crew. His investigation into the mystery leads him to an ancient cosmic evil that has slept for eons, waiting for its chance to return.

“Buck” by Mark Pantoja
This is a tale of humans trying to survive on our Earth which has been infected with an extraterrestrial ecology. It isn’t personal, it is just life. This story is about revenge––a sad and hollow revenge.

“Blessed Be the Shadowchildren” by Malon Edwards
The Sun is dying––mortally wounded by an asshole god and his jealousy. There’s hope (and love) in the slow, dark death promised. Hope hangs on fifteen-year-old Levi and Lali reaching the warm arms of the Bright Lady before a horde of pursuing Biloko devour them––intestines first.

“The Beastly Ninth” by Carl Barker
The Sorcerer Napoleon is free, having escaped from his island prison and
returned to France, to begin re-raising Hell. The only man standing in his way is Lord Arthur Wellesley, and this time, the Duke of Wellington has a few tricks of his own.

“Rurik’s Frozen Bones” by Jake Elliot
It is Scandinavia, 819AD. The Vikings rule the North Atlantic through both warfare and trade. A beast hunts the cold waters between Sweden and Denmark, a monster unchallenged by the bravest of sailors.

“Wrath” by Lee Mather
Steven hasn’t touched a drink in months and now the time is right to take his son back from his brother’s custody. What he hadn’t counted on was the end of the world. Steven stopped believing in God a long time ago, but seeing is believing––will belief be enough to deter God’s wrath?

“Altus” by Georgina Kamsika
The Altus is a free-diving submersible whose helmswoman aims to break depth records. She finds more than she bargained for at the bottom of the sea. Something monstrous lurks in the darkness with her and her submarine.

“The Long Death of Day” by Timothy Baker
For John and the love of his life, a terrifying shadow threatens to tear them apart. The world is at its end, and a blanket of darkness has spread between the Sun and Earth, turning day into deep gloom. With it, something monstrous writhes within the unnatural night, intent on devouring our dying planet.

“Out of the Black” by William Meikle
300-years after the great dimming, the energy resources begin to run out. A man is sent from the underground city to the surface to scout for survival-necessary ore. All he finds is a dead world and a great blackness; a blackness that will not be kept out.

“Born of Darkness” by Stacey Turner
After clouds block out the sun, Jeb struggles to keep his family safe and his faith intact. With his wife’s unexpected pregnancy and two strangers seeking refuge, things go from bad to worse. How do you tell who follows the path of light when you can no longer see who’s immersed themselves in darkness?

“Where Coyotes Fear to Tread” by Gef Fox
The world is shrouded in darkness and people have started acting strangely. Only two people can save the world from an ancient evil rising out of the Tennessee River––a ne’er-do-well redneck named Lester and his ex-girlfriend, Carla. Carla might be up for the challenge, but all Lester wants to do is get the hell out of Knoxville.

“The Theophany of Nyx” by Edward M. Erdelac
A fissure opens in the moon’s crust and swallows Earth’s first lunar colony whole, resulting in a thick cloud of dark dust that drifts into our planet’s atmosphere, blotting out the sun. Night falls across the entire world and vegetation begins to die. After eons of exile, something driven from the Earth in its primordial past is at last returning…

“Double Walker” by Henry P. Gravelle
Psychoanalyst, Dr. Maria DOBBS has a new client who believes his shadow has murdered his parents and others. She attempts to decipher whether he is a clever killer feigning insanity, an unwilling victim of an electrical storm jolting his senses, or the victim of a lifestyle placing his emotions in turmoil. Will she discover the truth before it is too late?

“Light Save Us” by Ryan Lawler
It has been months since Ted last saw the Sun. Hideous beasts lurk in the darkness outside the compound, waiting for the lights to fail. Ted works hard to keep the lights running, but the longer he fights, the more inviting the darkness becomes.

The following are bonus stories, available only for NOOK and Kindle:

“Roadkill” by CM Saunders
Jimmy and Tito make up one of the freelance ambulance and recovery crews patrolling the notoriously dangerous roads and highways of Brazil. Their job is not to the common man’s taste, but the money is worthy, and they’ve become very good at it. Everything worked great until the night they stumbled across an accident victim who refused to die.

“Night Terrors” by Jonathan Pine
Dr. Mark Jacobs is a well-meaning physician just trying to do his best for his patients. But after a chance encounter, he ends up taking his work home with him in a way he could never imagine. Now he will have to face his own night terrors.

“Final Rights” by Peter Welmerink
The world has been cast into the cold embrace of Nuclear Winter, the Earth withering towards a dreary demise. The once-glorious daylight hours, now a perpetual dusk as the last bastions of humanity hold beneath the brightly-lit, but slowly dying vestiges of the larger cities. On the perimeters of our cloud-cloaked countryside, light succumbs to deep shadow–where a myriad of mutated beasts hungrily await civilization’s light to wink out.

“Evensong” by Alex Marshall
Demons rule the outside––but devils stalk within. These are the hidden halls of Agartha – perhaps the last of Earth’s buried strongholds where, for countless centuries, Morya’s folk have been enslaved. But now, rebel-soul Morya and her lover Seth have a chance to escape the hated Seers; a chance to breathe clean air and see the sun’s fading splendor for themselves…if only they dare…

Fading Light has already seen some stellar reviews:

Buying Links:

Main book:


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